People & Places
A Brief History
Joe Tarsia grew up in Philadelphia with a love for music and electronics. That combination eventually led him to work as a laboratory technician for Philco Corp. in the research department. In his spare time, he moonlighted fixing TVs, where he met someone who had a recording studio and needed his tape recorder fixed. Joe never left and eventually rebuilt the studio. He began servicing other studios, one of which was Cameo Parkway. He worked his way up from Assistant Junior Engineer to Chief Engineer, where he worked with such artists as Gamble & Huff, Thom Bell, Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, the Dovells, Bobby Rydell, Billy Paul and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
In 1968, Joe Tarsia would form his own company, Sigma Sound. Under Tarsia's leadership, Sigma brought cutting edge innovation to sound recording, as the second studio to offer 24-track recording and the first studio anywhere to successfully employ console automation. It was during the mid 60's to the early 80's that the unique sound that came to life in Sigma Sound Studios would dominate the world's airwaves. Joe Tarsia and Sigma Sound became synonymous with "The Sound of Philadelphia".
Working with Joe was such a joy. He is an amazing talent. He is responsible for the "sound" of Philadelphia.
I went to England with Joe, and we had a tour of EMI Studios. Paul McCartney, had just finished doing a vocal overdub on "Maxwell Silver Hammer" with George Martin (first floor). Paul and George Martin are in the control room (second floor) where you can look down to see the studio.
Joe and I were also on the second floor when Paul came out on his way to the loo. My group, The Spokesmen, had just released a recording of Michelle. The engineer introduced Paul to us. So while we were talking to Paul, Joe says, "you know John has a group in Philadelphia called The Spokesmen, and their new record that was just released was "Michelle," and it's selling quite well." So Paul pulled his head back and said, "Well, you know, ours is doing quite well also. Bye!" And off he went.
A few minutes later, we're being shown the studio, and I'm taking pictures of Ringo's drums, George's guitars. The engineer came to tell us that George Martin told us not to take any pictures and to come back up to the second level.
On a final note, Joe is my friend, and I love him.